Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 1: Ingenuity engine, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph VFX and Digital Art.
- No one really tells you in school that you can do whatever. And I think that's important. You know if you like something and enjoy doing it, you can make a job of it. It's a lifelong learning process. - Grant, tell me a little bit about the work you guys do at Ingenuity Engine. - So we do really a wide variety of commercials, television, film. Primarily commercials now. Like 70% commercials and then the other 30 is TV and film. And it's, you know, the television shows we do aren't really kind of effects shows.
It's a lot of just making Brooklyn Nine-Nine look like they shoot in Brooklyn. Making Parks and Rec look like they shoot it in Indiana. You know, stuff like that. - That's fantastic. Really the, the really hidden... - Yeah, the invisible, you know, "Oh, it wasn't snowing there?" "Oh, it wasn't fall there?" So, a lot of that sort of stuff. - Maybe we should take a look at some of the work then. - Yeah, absolutely. So this is our breakdown reel, which is kind of different from our show reel, that it's got a lot of before and after stuff.
You know, the Smart car, we replaced the whole street that it was shot on because we needed the glass interaction and stuff like that. You know this was shot on a stage with just a little bit of the wall built. And then we did plates for all these backgrounds and comped everything in. The door on the car was - Oh yeah. - never there. The car was never there. The Ferris wheel and all the insertion for all that stuff. - Excellent. - Harold and Kumar was our first stereo 3D film. - Wow. - So that was a...
- That really changes the pipe line I'm sure. - They say it's like twice as hard because it's like two eyes, but it's like six times harder. - Yeah. (laughing) - It's a total lie. Bruce Willis walking on the roof of that bus was not actually walking on that bus. He was... They had a stunt guy that did a lot of stunts for him that really is uncanny how much we used the stunt guy. - Oh wow. - I think it was 60% stunt guy, - Wow. - 40% Bruce Willis. - Really. - It's kind of crazy. He has a prosthetic nose that he puts on and it's just, from any, from-- - A distance.
- 10 meters away you can't tell the difference. It's pretty nuts. This was shot recently in China. Kind of a block south of Mongolia. It was really - Wow. - one of the more miserable shoots I've ever been on. We had... - That does look like a pretty bleak place. - It's, it was like 30 degrees. - Wow. - Tops and like 50 mile an hour winds. We replaced so much of that footage. It's, you know, we just have the cars. It's like, we have a salt flats here in the States. It's really nice and you know, has majestic mountains in the background and not terribly freezing.
- So a lot of the work you guys do is, you know. It's not quite making something out of nothing. It's taking something and making something more out of it. - Yeah. You know so this is, we shot a little patch of green and then now they're in a giant stadium with all the extra factors and stuff. So yeah, we work with a lot of production companies. So we're kind of, we're that, kind of a visual effects company. We're kind of like a production company's hire typically. And we really, a lot of the jobs we do, we're brought in very early on.
You know during the creative process to kind of figure out what the best way to shoot something, what the most cost effective methodology and stuff. It ends up being great for the production company 'cause they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars not building out a big thing on a stage. Just kind of building the section we need and then doing whatever. Or renting, you know Dodger Stadium for an afternoon when it's like, just a stadium in the background. We have 10 other stadiums we've built for other jobs. - Yeah. - Let's just use one of those and stick it in there. So the benefit of working at Ingenuity, we do such a wide variety of work that we have film projects that are longer term that we get to dig in and do a really good job on and "Oh, the sim takes four days?" "Screw it, it takes four days, it's fine." And then we do commercial work that we really have to think creatively on how we could even possibly get this done in two weeks.
- Yeah, wow. - Like we did a Britta job recently that was our first big deep compositing job inside of Nuke. And without deep compositing, making that transition, we wouldn't have been able to do the job in time. - Yeah that's a really important trend, I think in terms of image control and you know, compositing in a really more structured way. Where you're actually able to access a lot more information inside the image. - Yeah, I mean you can extract exactly what you need.
If I need to, you know, a map for just that pen and it needs to be a perfect different color it's very reasonable to do that. - You have an example of some deep compositing you can show me? - Yeah, for sure. So, this is a shot from the Britta job. We can watch the commercial after this as well so you can see the whole thing in context. And these are the cans rendered with deep holdouts. - Mmhmm. - The cans are falling everywhere. They're falling in front of umbrellas, behind taxis, in front of this girl, behind this chair and to do traditional roto on this we'd have to get the plates, do very tight roto and then pull that back into 3D, use it as hold outs, and - Mmhmm.
- You know, kind of come back and updia their side with a render. - Right. - And then if that roto is off a little bit or needs to change at all, - You have to load-- - It's that whole process all over again. - Mmhmm. - So, here's a simplified version of that same comp and the roto is just live in Nuke. So this woman is, you know, kind of cut out and roto-ed like you normally would and then projected onto a card in 3D space. - 3D space. And that 3D space is based on the projection that you guys have calculated using the tracking engine. - Yeah so, your track camera in deep is very important because you're rendering not only the CG for it, but also the projected mats for it as well.
- Right. - And as long as that's the same camera everything lines up perfectly. - Mmhmm. - So we have her card in 3D space and then we can see her relative to the point cloud of where those cans are, which Nuke generates for you. So, now I can suddenly place her exactly behind the can that's supposed to fall at her feet. Or exactly in front of the splash that's supposed to blow up behind her. - Is the process of tracking, so you know, the girls walking towards the camera right now. - Mmhmm. - Are you getting the depth information from her based on measurements on set? Or are you guestimating based on the tracking engine? - So we took detailed measurements on set of kind of where everyone was and then fed those into the tracker to get kind of an accurate, a more accurate solve.
And then we know, we know where that bench is. - Mmhmm. - We know where those umbrellas are back there, so we can kind of place her card what looks-- - Within a range. - Within a range. And then it's also, I mean it's an artistic deal. It's what looks right, does she feel like she's at the same spot as the can beneath her feet? Uhm, you know, so that sort of thing. - That's fantastic. - Do you find that you end up having to often come back and do revisions based on client review? - Absolutely. - Like how involved would the Britta folks be involved in that shot? Would they sit down and look at it and say "We need to, we do need to move that can "over here to the left a little bit." - The agency and the director are more inclined to give those notes and that was an important part of the Britta job.
We had, it was two week turnaround from edit lock to completion. But we had a week of dev time. - Right. - Where we went and built 30 or 40 falling cans and bottles with their various spray elements. Because, you know you think, "Oh it's just a ton "of cans falling from the sky." "You just put a ton of cans and drop 'em." - Drop 'em, yeah. - But the clients and the director and the agency all want "You know, I want this can to bounce off this fire hydrant "kind of half way through the shot." And you don't get that sort of control if they're all just simulated.
- So they're all hand placed, all of those cans. - Wow, every single one? - Every single, you know, we place them in groups sometimes for the background ones that kinda didn't matter so much. But all the foreground hero CG cans were all-- - So it's all key frames? - It's all... Yeah, so we backed out the caches. So we'd sim, we'd sim a single can doing the spray and then you had kind of, "let's roll through all these cans". "Oh, that one has a cool wobble to its bounce." We'll, you know-- - Lift that out. - That will be where, you know, it hits the fire hydrant. That'll be the can. - Nice. - So, that was the way it was set up.
And then, you know as far to speak about the roto, and the changes and stuff. - Mmhmm. - We made roto changes and fixes and tweaks up until the last day of delivery. - Wow. - And that's not possible without decompositing it. - Sure. - If you had to, on the last day changed the roto and then round trip it back through the rendering, you missed your deadline. - (laughing) That's a bad thing. Can you show us the full commercial? - Absolutely. So this is the full Britta spot. Sky replacement on this stuff.
The squirrel on the can. All the cans falling here in the foreground. This shot that we-- - There she is, yeah. - That we talked about. The poor dog in that just gets destroyed. This wide shot of the whole city getting messed up. - That's awesome. - It was one of those commercials that it's, you know, it's rare. We do a lot of advertising and... - Mmhmm. - Most of the stuff we do commercials for, you're like "I don't know." But I have a Britta filter. It's the best. You like feel good about, you like "I hope more people drink more water instead of cola." It was like a feel good spot.
As opposed to trying to sell someone a flat screen that they don't need. (both laughing)
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